Animal Care Intern

The Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum is offering an opportunity for education and experience for tomorrow’s workforce. The Zoo has internship opportunities available to those interested in pursuing a career in Animal Care and Zoo Management. The intern program is designed to help applicants determine if a career with animals is right for you. It also offers valuable experience to those who are planning to apply to vet school or looking to pursue a job in the animal care field. You will learn, hands on, all the husbandry techniques that it takes to care for the animals at the zoo. You will be given

the opportunity to gain valuable skills, on-the-job training and experience that will be a great asset to you in the future as you continue to pursue your career. Some of the areas interns will get instruction include but are not limited to: cleaning, feeding, making diets, basic maintenance of areas, safety, and record keeping as well as the basics of Operant Conditioning Animal Training, and enrichment. Interns will have the opportunity to do an enrichment based project to increase their knowledge of one of the species that theywork. Interns will also attend several classes during the program to further increase their knowledge about all aspects of zoo keeping and animal care.

Please note: All internships are unpaid and housing is the responsibility of the individual.


  • Must be 18 or older.
  • Requires a high school diploma or GED certificate.  Prefer candidates that are pursuing a degree in a zoological related field.
  • Must commit to volunteering at least 8 hours per week. Your schedule will depend on your own availability and must be consistent for the duration of the internship.
  • Must commit to at least 3 months as an intern.
  • All interns should have a basic interest in animals, an ability to get along with others, and a professional/neat demeanor.
  • Interns must take directions well and pay careful attention to procedures and established protocols.
  • They should follow instructions and carry out their responsibilities in a safe and careful manner in order to avoid injury to themselves, to employees, to visitors, and to the animals.
  • They must be physically able to perform cleaning, feeding, and general husbandry tasks for animals in various weather conditions.
  • Must be able to lift up to 50 pounds regularly.
  • Weekend, evening, and holiday work may be required.
  • Interns are required to work as a team and with minimal supervision.
  • Participants must be able to adjust to changes in the daily routines.
  • Must also maintain a valid driver’s license.

Application Process

Download and complete the Great Plains Zoo Volunteer Application /howyoucanhelp/volunteer/.

Please attach a cover letter explaining why you are applying (limit 500 words), and a résumé.

Submit your entire application packet via email or mail to:

Leigh Spencer, Education Services Manager
Great Plains Zoo Volunteer Program
805 S. Kiwanis Ave.
Sioux Falls, SD 57104.

After we receive an application packet we will review the information, contact applicants for an interview, decide which applicants best match our current needs and then determine which animal routine they will be placed at. Candidates selected for the program will receive an acceptance email. Once an applicant is accepted in the program, proof of a negative tuberculosis test (within the last year) as well as a tetanus shot (within the last seven years) will need to be provided. These items must be turned in before you start volunteering with the Animal Care Department. Final acceptance is dependent upon a background check. All housing and transportation costs are the responsibility of the intern.